The Arava STOL utility transport was IAI's first design to enter production that was intended for both military and civil customers, but was built in only small numbers.
IAI began design work on the Arava in 1966. Design objectives included STOL performance, the ability to operate from rough strips and carry 25 troops or bulky payloads. To achieve this the Arava design was of a fairly unusual configuration, featuring a barrel-like short but wide fuselage, the rear of which is hinged and swings open for easy loading and unloading, plus long span wings, twin tails mounted on booms that run from the engine nacelles and two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprops.
The Arava first flew on November 27 1969, while a second prototype flew for the first time on May 8 1971. US FAA certification for the initial Arava 101 was granted in April 1972.
The Arava 101 was not put into production, but formed the basis for the 101B, 102 and 201 production models. The 101B was marketed in the USA as the Cargo Commuterliner and differed from the 101 in having an improved 19 seat interior in passenger configuration and more powerful PT6A36s. The 102 had a 20 seat passenger interior, or alternatively a 12 passenger executive interior or all freight configuration.
The 201 is primarily a military version, and has sold in the most numbers, with more than 70 built, mainly for air arms of developing nations. The final Arava development is the 202, which is easily recognised by its large Whitcomb winglets, boundary layer fences inboard of each wingtip and slightly stretched fuselage. The winglets and boundary layer fences were offered as a kit for retrofitting to existing Aravas.
Arava production ceased in the late 1980s.
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